HOUSE builder Barratt Developments says the government's Help to Buy scheme and high demand has driven its prices up over the past six months.

The firm, founded by the late North-East property tycoon Sir Lawrie Barratt, completed 6,195 new homes in the six months to the end of last year, up 19 per cent on a year earlier.

It said 29 per cent of the houses were bought using the government's Help to Buy scheme.

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Its average selling price for the period rose to £211,000, up 13.7 per cent from the previous year's figure of £185,500.

Barratt said it was "well placed" for the year ahead.

"We have been able to increase materially the number of new homes being built and our profitability," said chief executive Mark Clare.

Forward sales for the firm are up 70.6 per cent on the same period a year earlier to £1,265.8m.

Both Barratt and its rival housebuilders have benefited from the government's move last year to help struggling house buyers by providing loans and guaranteeing mortgages with its Help to Buy scheme.

The first phase of the scheme was launched last April, but only provided help to first-time buyers buying new-build homes.

The extended scheme, launched last November, applies to all buyers and all types of homes, up to a value of £600,000.